'Casper' star Devon Sawa recalls being a teen heartthrob: 'I hate this'

Hope Schreiber

If you were growing up in the mid-90s, it's safe to say that you are very familiar with Devon Sawa's work. After appearing as the proverbial dreamboat in some of the era's most iconic coming of age movies, Sawa stole hearts as a talented quarterback in “Little Giants,” during his brief appearance as the still-alive Casper, and as the boy-next-door in “Now and Then.” Recently, however, he opened up about identifying as a teen heartthrob, and why he wanted to move on from the glossy pages of Tiger Beat.

Devon Sawa wasn't a fan of being a teen heartthrob. (Photo: JB Lacroix/ WireImage)
Devon Sawa wasn't a fan of being a teen heartthrob. (Photo: JB Lacroix/ WireImage)

In a conversation with Vulture, Sawa revealed that he had no idea that he even was a rising celebrity crush following the release of his early movies in America.

"The teen magazines weren’t big in Canada. There was no internet," Sawa, who was born and raised in British Columbia, Canada, said. "Teen magazines weren’t as big, but young girls in Canada weren’t really into those things that much. So when I hit all those magazines, nobody really cared out there. I didn’t feel famous at all."

It wasn't until he returned to the states to film “Wild America” with fellow teen heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas that his new surreal reality hit him.

"I remember one incident with Jonathan Taylor Thomas where we were in a limo in London and we were being chased by young girls. It felt … not real. It felt like a Beatles thing, and we shouldn’t be in it, you know?" Sawa said. "Listen, it was very flattering. When you’re 17, it’s overwhelming. But I felt very lucky."

However, as a young adult, Sawa says that he woke up one day and realized he wanted to take on more challenging roles than the main love interest. 

"There was one day I woke up and said, 'I hate this.' And I wanted to do ‘SLC Punk,’ ‘Idle Hands,’ ‘Stan,’” Sawa said, alluding to his portrayal of a Salt Lake City punk, a possessed teenager, and as the iconic stalker in Eminem's music video. "Everything to get me out of that Teen Beat or ‘heartthrob’ title. I wanted nothing to do with it anymore."

"I didn’t want to be the pretty boy or whatever they were calling me. I didn’t want to talk about my favorite food or where my first kiss was, you know? My most romantic song. These things weren’t interesting to me," Sawa added.

For the actor, the transition from his earlier roles to ones he "really enjoyed doing" was natural.

"I grew up and didn’t like those teen magazines anymore, and the girls that were fans of mine grew up, too. And so it was a shift that happened organically," Sawa said. 

More recently, Sawa's roles included that of a famous actor, who is stalked by John Travolta in “The Fanatic,” but he still looks back fondly on his life as a child actor. 

"I got lucky. I never had any bad experiences. It was always very positive. The people I worked with were very great," Sawa said. "I had to miss prom and all of that, but the things I did do — I’m very fortunate."

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